The socio-cultural group Jukun Development Association of Nigeria (JDAN) has congratulated elderstatesman and Nigeria’s former Chief of Army Staff Gen. Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (rtd), on his 80th birthday which comes up on Friday.

Chief Bako Benjamin, the National President of the Association, in a statement made available to newsmen in Lagos, extolled Danjuma’s virtues describing him as a towering personality, and a philanthropists with a heart of Gold.

“Danjuma is one of the last generations of nationalists whose contributions to the nation development and Africa’s unity cannot be ignored,” Bako said.

According to him, the entire Jukun race would forever be grateful to Gen. Danjuma for his foresight, forthrightness and dedicated service to the nation both as a military top brass and a committed and strong advocate of democracy.

He said Gen. Danjuma helped to build the Jukun race brand as a major cultural force in the country.

“His larger than life personality which traverses military, business and philanthropic initiatives have continued to reverberate across the length and breadth of Nigeria and the African continent.”

Bako pointed out that; “the association and indeed the entire Jukun people owe General Danjuma deep gratitude and eternal respect for all he has done for them.”

He said the association has dedicated their annual thanksgiving and end of the year party in honour of the former defence minister’s 80th birthday, and promised to name their new secretariat under construction after him.

Danjuma according to Bako rose from humble background being born in Takum, (old Gongola State) now Taraba, to peasant parents, got his earliest education at the St Bartholomew’s Primary School, Wusasa, from where he moved to Benue Provincial Secondary School in Katsina-Ala, where he obtained his Higher School Certificate in 1958. He got enrolled into the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology (now Ahmadu Bello University) and left shortly thereafter to enlist in the Nigerian Army where he had a sterling career.

Danjuma became a Lieutenant in the Nigerian Army in 1960 and elevated to the rank of a Captain and joined the UN Peace-keeping Force in Sante, Kataga Province of Congo. In 1966, he was associated with a counter coup, He was deeply involved in the Nigerian civil war and led a battalion that freed Jaja Nwachukwu from detection by the Ojukwu government.

In 1971, he earned the rank of Colonel and in 1975, he was promoted to the rank of a Brigadier and a GOC. In 1976, he became the Chief of Army Staff in the regime of the military Head of State Olusegun Obasanjo. In 1979, Danjuma retired from the army and formed a shipping line Nigeria American Line (NAL), which traded between Lagos and Brazil. NAL later merged with Comet Shipping also established by Danjuma to become NAL-Comet Shipping, one of Nigeria’s most successful indigenous shipping line.

In 1995, he floated South Atlantic Petroleum Ltd (SEPTRO), and the company was granted an oil prospecting licence (OPL) 246. He own 15% stake in Akpo deepwater oil field and a major stakeholder in Notore Chemical Industries manufacturers of urea fertiliser.

Besides being a billionaire, Africa’s 22nd richest man according to Forbes, Danjuma, according to Bako remains an ambassador of the cause of the Jukun people and an unrepentant democrat.

He said the Jukuns will continue to proudly associate with General Danjuma for his commitment to the cause of the downtrodden within the Jukun nation and the country as a whole. n astute businessman who has distinguished himself in public service and has continued to be a mentor to millions of others in the private sector.